A turbulent cross-country journey of heated passion, bitter vengeance, and a haunted past lead Grey Wolf and Laura on their ... Trail To Destiny.
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Cheri Kay Clifton - Author
Laura Westbrook expected to face her share of challenges crossing the continent on a wagon train. But when she saves the life of the courageous white warrior, Grey Wolf, she finds the pathways between pride and prejudice, love and loyalty far more difficult to travel.
Having buried deep within him the horrific memory of his family's massacre at the hands of a rogue band of Pawnee, young David thrives under the care and tutelage of his rescuer, Cheyenne Chief Black Arrow. Trained to become the proud warrior named Grey Wolf, he finds his life changed again by the beautiful and strong-willed Laura, who encourages him to reclaim his forsaken heritage and face the secrets of his haunted past.
From the rugged Nebraska plains to a Cheyenne village, from an army fort to a small town in California, destiny leads Laura and Grey Wolf on a trail of passion and danger that culminates in an astounding revelation.
***Content Warning: This story contains mild violence, mild profanity, adult situations including physical intimacy, and is intended for mature readers.
Laura reveled in the exhilaration of riding Sonny at a full run. The wind whipped past her face and threatened to pull her long hair from its combs. Laughing, she stole a glance behind her. Lucky rode fast at her heels, his blue roan about to overtake the Morgan.
“Laura, stop!” Lucky yelled. He leaned over and grabbed her reins, yanking both horses to a jolting halt.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she railed.
Lucky raised an arm and pointed. “Look what’s coming down that hill. The way you were riding, you’d have been on top of them.”
“Oh, my stars, is that … are they …” Her heart lurched with a giddy flutter. “Indians?”
Lucky squinted his eyes. “Cheyenne, I’d say.”
Three Indians made their way down the slope, their horses’ legs completely hidden in the tall, swaying grass. A riderless horse trailed behind the leader.
Lucky twisted in the saddle and looked back. “Here comes Dan. He’s good at parleying with the Indians. Knows how to use their sign language.” He eyed Laura sternly. “You better go on back to the wagons.”
Laura caught the way he fingered the handle of his holstered gun while he followed their progress down the hill. “Do you think there might be trouble?”
“Ain’t enough of them to take on a whole wagon train, so it’s not likely. Then again, you never know what goes through those savages’ minds. They’re not exactly pleased with us tramping over their hunting grounds.”
Laura gripped the reins tighter, restraining Sonny’s skittish prance as Dan halted his horse close by. “I’m surprised to see the Cheyenne this far east,” he said. From the even tone of his voice, he didn’t sound worried.
Reaching the open road, the Indians veered in their direction. “Looks like they’re pulling a travois with somebody on it.” Dan gestured with a jerk of his head. “Laura, you go on back. Lucky and I’ll see what they want. I told the folks to circle up for the night. Couple wagons need repair anyway.”
Telling Lucky to stay behind him, Dan urged his horse forward. He halted in front of the lead Indian who wore a tanned-hide shirt, heavily fringed and decorated with an elaborate design of colored beading across the shoulders and down the sleeves. More beads ran the length of his fringed leggings and covered his moccasins. A wide breastplate made of bones hung from his neck. At the end of each long, black braid of hair, two large white and black-tipped eagle feathers were tied. But it wasn’t just his colorful clothing and ornaments that marked this Indian a chieftain; more evident was the stoic pride chiseled on the Indian’s face.
Mesmerized by what she saw, Laura had no intention of turning tail and running. These weren’t some glorified pictures in a book, but real-life Indians. She eased Sonny closer, wanting to hear their conversation.
“I meet as friend,” Dan said, his English words pronounced slowly in conjunction with the movement of his hands. He waited for the Indian to indicate his acknowledgment, and then continued signing. “I lead my people north to flat river and west over mountains,” he said, lowering his hands to his sides.
Lacking any facial expression, the Indian made several motions with his hands and fingers, then spoke in what must have been his native tongue. He slid from his horse, his look indicating he expected Dan to dismount, too.
They walked past the large pinto and knelt beside the travois. The Indian continued to talk and gesture with his hands.
Lucky turned in his saddle and glared back at Laura. “Confound it, Laurie, get back to the wagon,” he said under his breath through clenched teeth.
“Why?” Laura demanded, her eyes boldly meeting his.
“Because Dan said to. It could be dangerous.”
“They don’t look dangerous,” she whispered. She stood up in her stirrups, stretching to see past the two other Indians astride their horses. “There’s someone lying on that litter. Do you suppose the person’s sick?”
Lucky frowned. “How should I know?”
Laura dismounted and started toward the travois. She’d taken only a few steps when the two Indians vaulted from their horses and leaped in front of her, their long lances braced horizontally across their bodies.
“Laurie!” Lucky jumped from his horse, grabbed her arm, and swung her around. “For God’s sake, girl, haven’t you got a lick of sense?”
“Let go!” Laura pried his fingers from her arm.
“Just where in blazes do you think you’re going?”
She turned to Dan who’d stepped around the pinto. He looked a bit bewildered, while the older Indian seemed to glare right through her. “All I want to do is take a look at him. Maybe there’s something I can do.”
Dan signed to the chief. “She means no harm. She—”
“Dan,” Laura interrupted. She tried sidestepping the two Indians, but they countered her every move. She sighed with impatience and looked between them. “Dan, why don’t you tell him I’m a nurse?”
Dan walked around the Indians whose eyes remained riveted on her. “Listen, Laura, you’ve got to understand how unusual it is for them to see a white woman …” he hesitated, frowning, “especially one with your looks, sashaying around them and speaking out like you’re doing!”
He turned to Lucky. “We could have a problem on our hands. That man lying over there is Chief Black Arrow’s son. He’s badly injured, and the Indians think white man’s medicine can heal him.”
“Then why don’t you tell the chief there might be something I can do for him?”
“It isn’t that easy. Once you touch the man, it means I’ve agreed to be responsible for what happens to him.”
“How was he injured?”
“He was mauled by a grizzly.”
Laura inhaled sharply. “My Lord, I must go to him,” she said, darting past Dan and Lucky before they could stop her.
Just as the warriors lunged for her, Black Arrow’s stern shout stopped them. Knowing she’d have to get past the chief, she cautiously stepped up to him. She pointed her thumb to the middle of her chest and said her name. Boldly determined, she pointed behind the big pinto, and then waited, her eyes seeking his for permission.
For the longest time, Black Arrow watched as the wind blew long strands of her hair about her face. Laura supposed its bright auburn color held his fascination. He reached out and fingered a lock of it. After his gaze roamed over her from head to toe, he spoke, the words rolling off his tongue in that rhythmic high-low pitch. Then he moved aside for her to pass.
Laura lowered her eyes, sensing it was the respectful thing to do. Relieved she’d met with the Indian’s critical inspection, she stepped around the pinto.
As she knelt beside the travois and looked at the man, she gasped aloud. A dark beard and mustache covered the man’s pale, white face. Long, golden-brown hair brushed the top of his shoulders with a few damp strands straying over his forehead. Nothing about him resembled an Indian except for a red-beaded band circling his head.
“Why … he’s a white man!” she exclaimed.